I want to start this post with the topic of trafficking. It’s going to transition into faith as most of my posts do. If you are here for one or the other, that’s fine read both or part I get it.
The world we live in is an interesting place. To sell slaves hundreds of years ago required established markets where buyers could come to make purchases. In the evolving digital age physical markets are not the only method of purchase. The rise of the “dark web” or the internet you can’t find via google or any normal web search, creates a safe haven for the bartering of trafficked victims, arms, drugs, and anything else illegal and dangerous. The dark net is not a field I’m I know much about and if you happen to be an expert please leave a comment explaining it in more detail than I am about to. The dark web came about because the US government wanted a secure means of transmitting data to intelligence assets in foreign areas. The dark web is created by using special routers known as onion routers who layer encryption to create an anonymous connection for the user. Inside the dark net websites like the Silk Road exist selling illegal goods anonymously and to anonymous buyers. Purchases are done with bitcoins usually, a digital currency that makes hunting criminals via money laundering much more difficult. All in all, though it is possible for authorities to track and eventually shutdown the buyers (the Silk Road and the Silk Road 2.0 have both been brought down by the feds) and purchasers in the dark net it is a lot harder.
Welcome to the story, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, commonly known as DARPA. DARPA is always on the edge of technology and they have some really cool robots but those you’ll need to find on your own. DARPA (who as I understand it is largely behind the existence of the dark web) is developing a program called MEMEX. MEMEX is sort of like a search engine (did I mention those don’t work/exist in the dark web?) It catalogues data on topics saving that information for when it’s needed. One of the things that makes the dark web tricky is that often ads are placed and removed before law enforcement can even find them. MEMEX would automatically be collecting trafficking posts and websites that appear in the dark web and saving all the information they can from the post, user information etc. Though DARPA didn’t build this just for the sake of trafficking, it is the item of focus during the prototype stage. Possibly because it’s a terrible and fast growing crime or it could be because it’s a business that moves all over the world at a rapid pace and would push data tracking as far as any crime could.
“In a demo conducted for 60 Minutes, White’s team showed how law enforcement could possibly track the movement of people—both trafficked and traffickers—based on data related to online advertisements for sex. The 60 Minutes piece wasn’t clear about how this was done and appeared to focus on the IP address of where the ads were hosted, implying that tracking where an ad moves from one IP address to another could reveal to law enforcement where the trafficker is located. But White says the IP address is the least important information they analyze. Instead they focus on other data points.
“Sometimes it’s a function of IP address, but sometimes it’s a function of a phone number or address in the ad or the geolocation of a device that posted the ad,” he says. “There are sometimes other artifacts that contribute to location.”
“You can imagine a scenario where people are moving around the country with women and are interested in advertising them—they post ads in different places. It can involve the same women and some of the same info like phone numbers. Via methods of connecting content through shared attributes—meaning the same number or image appearing on ads—you can create a network to understand where these things are connected and where they may be located.”
He notes that the connection from the online ads to the real world is not always accurate or a one-to-one match. “But that’s why there are investigators and prosecutors involved to do interpretation and make decisions. Darpa just creates the tech, and organizations adopt the technology to use it.”
Above piece from Wired
It’s a very cool science and what DARPA is building will help law enforcement immensely in all aspects of the criminal society using the dark web.
I like story of Jonah. I’ve written about it before. I think I relate to Jonah more than I relate to most figures of the Bible. Of course it is not that I have been eaten by a fish but the fact that I feel like I’m still running away from Nineveh.
3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord…4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship….they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” 9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) 11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” 12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
Jonah 1. Altered for the sake of keeping it short.
But Jonah ran away from the Lord… Most Christians have had these moments on various levels. Sometimes it’s as simple as not doing an act of kindness and sometimes you might literally be running away from the place God is asking you to go. Modern Christianity is an interesting thing. From the beginning of our faith there has been a constant commandment.. go and make disciples. When Jesus called the disciples, those rough and tough fisherman patriarchs of the faith, He said I will make you fishers of men. That’s the beginning of the faith. The First followers and the first thing He said to them was that they would be making disciples. It’s this aspect of “go” that the modern church seems to have a problem with. We exalt missionaries like they’re heroes for their sacrifice but that sacrifice is supposed to come from all of us. I’m not saying that every sacrifice is the same and not everyone is going to be called to Africa or Thailand but sacrifice was part of the agreement it’s a fundamental part of the New Testament.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
“He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Modern Christianity is often teaching a message that has nothing to do with sacrifice. I grew up in a very popular very large Church where the pastor is known for his scathing hellfire and brimstone teaching. My conflicts with the church ideology almost caused me to lose my faith forever. It’s interesting that while he is remarkably hellfire and brimstone that he is always teaching that God wants Christians to be wealthy and that if your faithful wealth will follow you. There is just no record of that in the Gospel.
“The young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
The modern church also seems to have a tendency to preach this sugar coated faith that attracts people. They want the Church to grow even if it means watering down the faith. I get it to a degree. If they started preaching that the Christian calling was to abandon our lives to the faith.. There would be less people in the Churches on Sunday. The people there though, would be beautiful dedicated, and true followers of the faith. Jesus had no interest in these part time followers of the faith.
He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
In Luke he tells the disciples to depart from the places that don’t want to hear the gospel. He doesn’t say sugar coat it and promise them a successful wealthy life. Preachers are always talking about good works not being a requirement of salvation that you can be saved even if you aren’t doing these good things. Yes its true faith is sufficient. Good works are a byproduct of that faith though. That last Bible verse is saying that directly. We are supposed to care for the world around us.
I got a little off topic. My point is that Christianity is a radical faith. We are supposed to abandon all we are for the faith. Anything God asks us to give we give. This is not a feel good religion. It’s a religion of sacrifice and love. Not everyone’s sacrifice is the same but if your faith isn’t calling you to give things up then you may not be listening.
The Bible says to take up your cross daily. The cross is a tool of suffering. You can’t carry a cross without suffering
–Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan
I personally am tired of running from my Nineveh. To me this is missions, I don’t think it’s a long term calling but I know that I am supposed to go. So today I’m going to breaking the news to my family I intend to apply for the World Race for a Jan 2016 start date, and if it is in God’s plan then I will get accepted and go. It comes at a difficult time in my life, as my friends are starting families and real careers, I just feel a disconnect to most of it all because I’m staying in an environment where I am holding on to things I was already asked to leave. But like Jonah, I am ready to get out of the boat.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.